Wednesday Night: Great Expectorations

One of my parents’ best friends is an ordained Baptist minister, and he’s probably the second most laid-back individual I’ve ever met.  This is because he worked for himself. 

No, he wasn’t a freelance minister, a sort of gun-for-hire for God.  Simply, he got his degree and certification, then decided that he didn’t like the ministry industry (mindustry?), so he started his own wallpaper-hanging business.  He worked hard, built his reputation, and made a great deal of money.  Best of all, he never had to work for anyone or with anyone.  He was his own boss, and his own employee.

I can understand the appeal of that, quite honestly.I’m a fairly laid-back individual myself, but I work with and for people who get very agitated.  I’m skilled at using voice-tone and wit to defuse tense situations, and my intelligence and creativity to help solve problems.  Yay, tom.

The reason I mention Don (we’ll refer to the wallpaper minister guy as Don, because that’s his name), is that I was on the phone with a very agitated client.  I explained myself repeatedly and clearly, and she just didn’t want to hear what I was saying.  She wanted a better answer.  She was, for lack of a better term, a whining sack of shit.  While this lady was yapping into my snot-muffled ears, I saw a guy painting the wall to my left.  He was calm and quiet.  He painted the entire wall, trim and all, in about a half hour.  It’s flawless. 

I should confess: I have both painted walls and hung wallpaper in my life, and I did both of these things quite badly.  Neatness, planning, meticulousness? I’m not your best choice.  If you need e-mails written with proper spelling and punctuation? I’m your guy.

That said, while I admired the zen-like calm the painting guy showed, I don’t know that that would be a good job for me.  Nor do I think I’d be successful at running my own business.

Some part of me needs the drama. I need to have a problem thrown at me, and I need to use my mad skillz to fix it. Some days, I wish the Universe were dropping fewer questions on my plate; most days, I wish people would whine substantially less.

Six years ago, I was a mess. I couldn’t deal with real people and real problems. Fortunately, I had a job where I didn’t have to.

Today, I’m glad to be in a position to fix things. My world certainly has glaring flaws–you’ll be able to tell when I’ve figured everything out, because I’ll be DEAD–but I guess my revelation was that while the part of me that was dealing with a whining ingrate yearned for the quiet calm of the painter guy, the whining sacks of fecal matter and drama junkies make for better stories.

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3 Responses to “Wednesday Night: Great Expectorations”

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “house painter — there’s a job I’d like to do” because it appears as you describe it, a calm, quiet job with the clear task in front of you, and you can see your progress as you do it.

    I have no idea if I’d be any good at it, having never done more than a bit of touch-up painting, but it sure looks like a sweet shift from this senior manager, everyone comes to me with stuff that isn’t even my department gig.

  2. Once in a while I’ll wish I had taken up some trade like my parents, fixing cars, typing/keyboarding (yeah, who types anymore?), carpentry, etc. Like Laurie says, it’s so concrete—you can see your progress, the goal is clear and finite, and at the end you can tell when you’ve done a good job.

    But I can also recall my parents grumbling about how exhausting and thankless their jobs were: the hours spent on their feet (or in my mother’s case, chained to a desk in a fluorescent-lit office), the complaints from know-nothing customers, the torturous heat of summer, the cold of winter. My father also has a crooked forefinger on his right hand from when he broke it while trying unscrew some corroded part out of a dirty engine.

    I guess I’ll take sweating over a misplaced comma or disagreeing verb any time over house painting or car mechanics.

  3. Freedom Smith Says:

    True. I have painted too and it is exhausting. Being a mom of five seems to be a constant shifting job from one day to the next. Every day seems different. There are the rare times that I get called to go pick up a sick child. But, mostly, it is the emotional challenge that takes the most energy. Why is this daughter seeming to revert to her “depressed” self? How shall I handle my 11 year old’s request that her sleepover coming up have no bedtime (ugg). And on it goes. Then there are the rides, the meals, and so much more. Sometimes, it is a lonely and seemingly thankless job. But there is the rare moment when I get a hug and an “I love you so much, Mom!” and that is the part of the job that makes the rest of it worth all of the effort!

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